Radiation Effects in Solids

My first book is out! Ok, not exactly. But, I am a co-editor of the “hot new release” (seriously, that is what Amazon is calling it) Radiation Effects in Solids, edited by myself, Kurt Sickafus and Eugene Kotomin. I’m also co-author, with Art Voter, of one of the chapters on Accelerated Molecular Dynamics Methods.

This book grew out of a summer school that Kurt Sickafus held in 2005, I believe, in Erice, Italy. He brought together many experts on radiation effects in solids who gave lectures to the next generation of researchers in the field. The timing couldn’t have been better, as the United States, along with a number of other countries, is reexamining nuclear energy as a crucial component of the nation’s energy portfolio. Since the Carter administration, no new nuclear reactors have been built in the US and, correspondingly, the expertise in areas such as nuclear materials has diminished.

Sick of Hypocrysy!

Today, news comes out that Gingrich was having an affair at the same time that he was going after Clinton for Clinton’s own indiscretions. Of course, he claims that it was different for him, because he didn’t lie about it to a judge. Though, he certainly went after Clinton for more than just lying, being the upstanding family-values guy he is.

People aren’t perfect. We all make mistakes. Often, we can’t even live up to the standards we set for ourselves, much less those of other people. And that is part of being human. But what really pisses me off is all of the damn hypocrysy! People preaching one way and acting another.

Gingrich is only the latest in what seems to be a rash of such confessions: there is the preacher guy in Colorado, constantly railing against homosexuals while he himself has dealings with a gay prostitute. There is the Congressman in Florida, one of the most ardent anti-pedophiles in Congress while texting sexually inappropriate messages to underage boys. Now Gingrich comes out with news that he was unfaithful while persecuting Clinton for the same. And Bush, who campaigned for the Presidency on a platform of cleaning up the White House, has one of the chief people in his administration convicted of lying.

Maybe it is a complex we, as Americans, have. We tell Iran they can’t have nuclear anything while we are building new nukes. We complain about Europe subsidizing their farmers while we do the same. We blame China for human rights abuses while we don’t exactly have a blemish-free record in that area.

I’m tired of all of the preaching to do one thing while the preacher does the opposite. “Do as I say, not as I do” seems to be a common attitude amongst people today. And the worst ones are the ones that seem to preach the most. The crusaders are the ones that should be crusaded against.

I don’t mind people making mistakes. Gingrich cheating on his wives affects him and his wives. It doesn’t really matter to me. But what does is when he is claiming some moral high ground over others when he is no better. Gingrich claims that he wasn’t as bad as Clinton because he didn’t lie. In my opinion, he wasn’t as bad, he was much worse. He attacked someone else for doing the same thing he did.  He was a hypocrit.

Nobody Gets the Girl

Nobody Gets the Girl Nobody Gets the Girl by James Maxey

Read: January 2007

I’m a big comics fan.  Not the biggest, I’m sure, but I enjoy comic books.  And I mostly read superhero comics, my favorites being X-Men, Fables, The Ultimates, Powers and Supreme Power.  There are a number of novelizations of comics or comic-based movies, none of which I’ve read.  However, there are also a couple of stand-alone novels based upon the comic book conventions that I’ve found and really liked.  The first was Superfolks by Robert Mayer.  It was really good.  It was about a superhero that is going through a midlife crisis.

The second is Nobody Gets the Girl by James Maxey.  In some ways, this is a very conventional superhero story, including an origin story for the hero, the typical battles, and the weird pseudoscientific explanations for things.  But, it gets a lot darker than most superhero tales.  There are probably no real “good guys” and the bad guys, of course, don’t see themselves that way.  In their own mind, they are freedom fighters, fighting against the supreme “good guy”, who wants to create a utopia at the cost of personal freedom.

The hero, Richard Rogers, is a regular guy who is going through a bit of a crisis.  But, he wakes up one day and his whole existence is gone.  The world he knew, the people he knew — including his wife — no longer exist.  Or, better said, they exist, but have no knowledge that Richard ever existed.  Soon, he learns the reason for his predicament, which has to do with a scientist traveling in time and preventing Richard’s conception.  He joins the scientist’s super-team, comprised of his two daughters, and tries to help the scientist — nicknamed Dr. Know by his daughter — implement his utopia while protecting him from his arch-enemy.

The story is well written, fast paced, and while using some of the unrealistic pseudoscience that comics always use to explain things, the world that Maxey sets up to explain the existence of super powers and such is novel.  It relies a bit too much on quantum physics, which all of these things seem to these days, but it does so in a unique way.

Furthermore, Maxey places his story in the “real” world, with the political problems that we face in our own world.  When super-powered terrorists attack cities, many, many, many people die, as you would expect if such things could really happen. It’s not like the Marvel or DC battles in which cities are destroyed, but it seems that no one really dies.  In that sense, the story is a bit more realistic (in the vein, in some ways, of The Authority).  The characters are compelling and interesting.  Their powers are also interesting and well utilized; one daughter has Magneto-like powers but uses them in a completely novel way compared to Magneto.

Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes the comic book/superhero genre.  It is an intelligent take on the genre, with enough unique twists and turns to keep the reader engaged.  And it is a relatively quick read too.  Not like a comic book, but still pretty fast.

Indy wins!

Colts Logo Well, the Colts won the Super Bowl! Finally, a team I root for wins something. I’ve had poor luck with my favorite NFL team, the Vikings, and the other sports teams I like (the Marineres and the Sonics, though if they move to Oklahoma, I will have to find a new NBA team).

The game, as befit the weather conditions, was sloppy. A lot of turn overs by both teams. Manning wasn’t spectacular, but got enough done to win. On our fantasy football site, we’ve been talking about if he deserved the MVP. I personally felt others deserved it as much as he did (the Colts’ RBs, Addai and Rhodes, or the defense, or even Grossman 😉 ) but I am not upset with Manning winning it. The whole offense goes through him and, more than most teams, he calls the plays. He adjusts to the defense. So, that the Colts ran against the Bears more than they did against other teams is as much Manning’s doing as anyone’s, it would seem to me.

The most impressive thing to me is how the defense stepped up in the playoffs. They were horrid during the regular season, especially against the run, but they became a very different team in the playoffs, shutting down some pretty damn good RBs, especially my rookie keeper Larry Johnson.

I’ll admit that I’m so up on Manning because he is my keeper QB. So, I’m happy that he won the big one, maybe get some of those critics off his back. Maybe this is his Jordan moment, and he will dominate for a few years, winning a few SBs. But, it will take another one or two to get some critics off his back.

Grossman played as bad as many thought he might. I wondered if at some point they might pull him. I don’t know if that has ever happened in a SB, but he deserved to get pulled. If the Bears had a semi-decent QB, I think they could have won. I’m guessing Griese and Orton were sitting on the bench thinking they could have done better.

While not the best SB I’ve seen, I was at least happy with the result. Congrats to the Colts! Maybe next year the Vikes can do something.

Blah, blah, blah… I've got the blahs.

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